During Commissioners Court on Monday morning, Judge Tom Bonn made a reasonably eloquent and heartfelt holiday wish, that the County could move forward in the coming year with more peace and harmony than we’ve enjoyed through 2011. Personally and professionally, I can’t think of a better Christmas gift than that – a little bit of peace, a little less discord, and a whole lot more forward motion.
During the discussion about the possibility of hiring a County Road Engineer, I figured out a way that the Commissioners Court can help us make that happen. It springboards off a concept that my dad drilled into our heads when we were kids, and used to help him on his construction sites.
“Measure twice. Cut once.”
One of the most glaring observations I’ve made about the Commissioners Court this year is what seems to be a prevailing idea that, “we’ll figure that out later.” Commissioner Buchholtz, in fact, said that very thing to my mother, within my hearing, after a public hearing about the hotly-contested and controversial budget. She asked him to stop and reconsider the budget.
“We need to pass it now, and we’ll go back and fix it later,” he said.
At that moment, I could do nothing but gasp and blink.
I began to realize, on Monday morning, that this is what our Commissioners have done quite routinely over the course of the year. They make decisions, and then try to work out the details of those decisions later.
They create positions and hire people to fill those positions, and then they write job descriptions and spell out those duties after the jobs are approved and the positions are filled.
They purchase property before disclosing how they intend to pay for the properties, what it will cost to renovate those properties, or what offices will be located at those properties after the renovations are complete.
They drive through expansive and cumbersome ordinances and immediately begin to revise those same ordinances.
They “cut” first, and pull out the measuring tape and marking pencils later.
It’s no wonder our governmental “house” gets closer to collapse every day.
Now, I’ll grant you, there is a significant chunk of our citizenry that isn’t helping matters much. They show up with proverbial sledgehammers to take a swipe at every decision, every consideration and every move the Court makes. And it’s difficult to build anything if someone is coming right behind you trying to tear it down.
But again, this brings us back to the chicken-and-egg question I’ve been grappling with all year. Is the house falling down around our ears because we’re tearing it down, or is it falling because the construction wasn’t that great in the first place?
Frankly, I’m not sure.
What I do know is this – it’s difficult for anyone to defend a decision they haven’t thought all the way through. It’s equally as difficult to support someone making a decision they can’t defend.
We have a couple of weeks off, now, as we go through the holiday season. Commissioners Court won’t be back in session until Jan. 9. I hope that gives us all some time to think about the house we’re building, and the blueprints we’re using to build it.
And maybe, just maybe, we can come back next year with fresh eyes, new tools and a more harmonious look at the future.
In the meantime, I wish you all a very blessed and Merry Christmas.